Updated: Oct 11, 2018
Before it is too late, we want to give you some valuable information about the warning signs if your child is being bullied.
Warning Signs for Bullying
There are many warning signs that may indicate that someone is affected by bullying—either being bullied or bullying others. Recognizing the warning signs is an important first step in taking action against bullying. Not all children who are bullied or are bullying ask others for help.
It is important to talk with children who show signs of being bullied or bullying others. These warning signs can also point to other issues or problems, such as depression or substance abuse. Talking to the child can help identify the root of the problem.
Effects of Bullying
Bullying can affect everyone—those who are bullied, those who bully, and those who witness bullying. Bullying is linked to many negative outcomes including impacts on mental health, substance use, and suicide. It is important to talk to kids to determine whether bullying—or something else—is a concern.
Kids Who are Bullied
Kids who are bullied can experience negative physical, school, and mental health issues. Kids who are bullied are more likely to experience:
Depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. These issues may persist into adulthood.
Decreased academic achievement—GPA and standardized test scores—and school participation. They are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school.
A very small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures. In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied.
Kids Who Bully Others
Kids who bully others can also engage in violent and other risky behaviors into adulthood. Kids who bully are more likely to:
Abuse alcohol and other drugs in adolescence and as adults
Get into fights, vandalize property, and drop out of school
Engage in early sexual activity
Have criminal convictions and traffic citations as adults
Be abusive toward their romantic partners, spouses, or children as adults
Kids who witness bullying are more likely to:
Have increased use of tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs
Have increased mental health problems, including depression and anxiety
Miss or skip school
The Relationship between Bullying and Suicide
Media reports often link bullying with suicide. However, most youth who are bullied do not have thoughts of suicide or engage in suicidal behaviors.
Although kids who are bullied are at risk of suicide, bullying alone is not the cause. Many issues contribute to suicide risk, including depression, problems at home, and trauma history. Additionally, specific groups have an increased risk of suicide, including American Indian and Alaskan Native, Asian American, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. This risk can be increased further when these kids are not supported by parents, peers, and schools. Bullying can make an unsupportive situation worse.
Why don't kids ask for help?
Statistics from the 2012 Indicators of School Crime and Safety - PDF show that an adult was notified in less than half (40%) of bullying incidents. Kids don’t tell adults for many reasons:
Bullying can make a child feel helpless. Kids may want to handle it on their own to feel in control again. They may fear being seen as weak or a tattletale.
Kids may fear backlash from the kid who bullied them.
Bullying can be a humiliating experience. Kids may not want adults to know what is being said about them, whether true or false. They may also fear that adults will judge them or punish them for being weak.
Kids who are bullied may already feel socially isolated. They may feel like no one cares or could understand.
Kids may fear being rejected by their peers. Friends can help protect kids from bullying, and kids can fear losing this support.